Jodie Tuner-Smith spent nearly four days in labor while giving birth to her and her husband’s daughter, Janie Jackson, at home earlier this year. Still, the British model would not have undergone her labor and delivery experience any other way. Jodie tells Vogue that systemic racism in the United States made her decide to give birth at home instead of in a hospital.
“We had already decided on a home birth because of concerns about negative birth outcomes for black women in America,” Turner-Smith reveals. “According to the [CDC], the risk of pregnancy-related deaths is more than three times greater for black women than for white women, pointing, it seems to me, to systemic racism.”
The high mortality rate of Black women during childbirth in the United States is not a new concept. Several studies throughout the years have shown African-American women as more likely to die while delivering a child when compared with White women. Many believe that such high death rates are due to perceptions about Black women and their tolerance of pain.
A recent survey of medical students showed that some still believed the false narrative of Black women having the ability to absorb higher levels of pain than White women. Such a perspective can be deadly in the labor and delivery room when a Black mother expresses discomfort that is overlooked.
America continues to address its normalizing of racism. Meanwhile, Jodie Turner-Smith and her husband, Joshua Jackson, welcomed their daughter in April after more than 72 hours of labor.
“Delivering at home ensured that I had what every single woman deserves to have: full agency in determining my birth support,” Jodie tells Vogue. “Both of us had watched our own mothers struggle to raise children without such support. Both of us were determined to create something different for ourselves,” the new mom continues. “He kept saying to me, ‘There’s no part of this that I’m going to miss.’ And there wasn’t.”
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Photo: Jodie Turner-Smith/Instagram